10 October 1925 - 9 December 2014
"JUDGE THE WORK, NOT THE MAN - only time will tell if I am any good. " KBH
K B HANCOCK has always painted, ever since early days at school when teachers asked him to draw on the blackboard everything from tadpoles to jousting knights and mountains - anything to illustrate their lessons. He is self-critical and reclusive, consumed by his passion for achieving pure impressionism and light in his oil paintings of France, and considers that every day when he does not paint is a day of his life that is lost forever.
He was the youngest son of a Victorian portrait and landscape painter who sent the young boy to Paris to study the fundamentals of drawing and painting with a 'maitre' in his atelier. It was here that his passion for the countryside of France, cafe life and painting was born. He spends much of his time in France, producing sketches which he finishes in his studio in Gloucestershire.
K B Hancock, the 'lost' British impressionist painter, was invited to show at the Paris Salon in 2002 and was elected an Associate Member of La Societe Nationale des Beaux Arts after his fifth year of exhibiting with them. His reaction was one of astonishment and delight. “I have been a painter all of my life and am truly honoured to be invited to join such illustrious names as Monet, Manet, Rodin, Delacroix, Whistler, Henry Moore, etc. It is to date the pinnacle of my long career to know that my work is accepted and admired in France where the arts are considered a necessity, not a luxury, as they are in England.’ He was made a full member in 2009.
In 1949 KB moved to St Ives, home to a thriving community of artists. ‘I was mixing with people like Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, Leonard Fuller and Sven Berlin. I learnt much from them and used that knowledge to develop my own style.’
His work is collected around the world, from the Middle East to Japan and the USA. He has always turned down London galleries. He’s not keen on art dealers – ‘they’re the car salesmen of the art world’ – and, anyway, he sells almost all of his work before the paint is even dry, excepting the ones he gives to his wife, Elisabeth, ‘to keep her in her old age.’ 'Perhaps I should have gone for the 'big time', sold myself to the devil and big marketing but I prefer not to. I doesn't make my work any better or any worse'
KB’s style has developed through his life. He specialises in almost three-dimensional oil paintings of Provence and the Cote d’Azur, which he loves so much. ‘The countryside is vibrant with flamboyant hot colours that contrast with the deep blue of wide, cloudless skies.’ He leaves English landscape to ‘Sunday painters’, saying that the trees are too dense and green.
For Hancock, art is a profession, a way of life and an unrelenting master. ‘I hate painting’ he says, ‘but I’m compelled to do it. I can’t stop.’ He is currently on a series of new paintings to be exhibited later in 2014.
Asked of his own work, he says ‘I have never sold for investment. There are three things about buying a painting. You love it, you can afford it and the quality you will know for yourself.
Judge the work not the man. Only time will tell if I am any good.’
Tribute to Jan Vriend 2012
A selection of paintings in the studio
KBH and his painting of Longpont at the Grand Palais
A younger KBH painting in St Ives